Born as Ian Bavitz, he is now known better under his stage name Aesop Rock, complete with scraggly beard. He was born outside NYC and would frequently visit there as a youth and he quickly became obsessed with the growing hip-hop culture as he was exposed to groups like Run DMC, Public Enemy and KMD. Through his older brother, he was also exposed to punk and hardcore groups like Dead Kennedys and Fugazi.
While attending college, Aesop would being to release albums self-financed albums that he would largely sell through his own website. It wouldn’t be until 1999’s Appleseed EP that he would begin to draw the attention of others in the underground hip-hop scene. This would lead to his first record deal with Mush and his first real studio album, Float. From there, Aesop would jump to Def Jux where he would stay as a solo artist until the label was put on hiatus. He continued to be a featured artist on others records and is an active producer until 2012’s release Skelethon on his new label Rhymesayers based out of Minneapolis (founded by members of Atmosphere, among others).
Aesop’s lyrics are known for being abstract, dense and quite hard to follow. In fact, his lyrics can be so complex that a recent study showed that he literally uses a wider vocabulary than any other popular artist – and it’s not even close. Like many other artists, it may take a while to decipher the meanings behind his songs but that process is half the fun.